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Full text of "Keyboard Mag Brian Banks and Anthony Marinelli 1987"

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The hit-making keyboardist/producer behind Peter Cetera, Donna Summer, and Rod 
Stewart steps out from behind the console with a powerful solo album. Controversial, 
opinionated, and respected by his colleagues, Omartian speaks out on drum machine overkill, 
the gap between technology and musical know-how, and the limitations of Christian music. 




Giant-screen synthesis and high-tech hiking. 


Golf meets archeology on the classical keyboard. 


JU Not a cult, not a mantra, Oingo Boingo is a longtime underground outfit that is finally 
winning an above-ground following. Bandleader Danny Elfman discusses the group's intricate 
sample library, explains why they work without a full-time keyboardist, and outlines his 
approach to solo film scoring. 


Undocumented features, unexplained procedures, and other secrets your mother 
never told you about one of the hottest new keyboards on the scene. 


DO One of the top session teams in Los Angeles discusses how to make it in the film music 
game. All you need is talent, dedication . . . and it doesn't hurt to have a couple of Synclaviers. 


OO A giant green beast attacks Bugburg in Pinocchio & The Emperor Of The Night as an 
orchestra thunders its accompaniment. The frog isn't real, and neither is the orchestra. 


/ O In words and music, a Polish emigre piano giant shows how to explore jazz piano from 
the roots up. 


Don’t wait until the zero hour next April. With these guidelines, you can plot your tax 
strategy and find the write-offs you need for your home studio now. 


I I Your chance to pick the best keyboard players of 1987. 

World View — Page 22 

Soundpage — Page 66 




110 Jazz Piano 

Bill Evans voicings. 

112 Technical Exercises 
Chordal tension. 

120 Contemporary Piano 
Between the wars. 

124 Freelance Piano 
Lounge Of Fame, 
Part 2. 

125 Applied Theory 

Weird scales. 

126 Rock Keyboards 

Scoring for TV. 

128 Patches 

DX7, CZ-101, & 

131 Software 
C & Pascal 

132 Digital Sampling 

134 Applications 
Key mapping. 

135 Piano Technician 

136 Casio FZ-1 
16-bit sampler. 

144 Roland D-50 

Digital synthesizer. 
148 Korg DDD-5 
Digital drum 

6 Letters 

12 Guest Editorial 
17 Reader Tips 
22 World View 
26 In Review 
28 Freff 

152 Spec Sheet 
156 Classified Ads 
162 Advertiser Index 

Cover photo by Ann Summa: for equipment identification, see page 91. 







) L L Y W 0 0 D 






way to earn a living, but some peo- 
ple have it crazier than others. How 
many film composers are asked to 
produce techno-pop for Giorgio 
Moroder one day, create an ersatz orches- 
tra for Steven Spielberg the next, and then 
mix the sound of mosquitos into Buffy 
Sainte-Marie’s voice to make a string 
sound? Meet Brian Banks and Anthony 
Marinelli, a.k.a. Sonar Productions. In their 
lOyears as partners. Banks and Marinelli 
havegonefrom being school palstofilm 
industry staples. Lately, working on such 
big-budget extravaganzas as Cat People, 


Clan Of The Cave Bear, and The Color 
Purp/eisall in a day’s work at Sonar's Holly- 
wood studio. 

The two synthesist/composers met 
nearly 20 years ago as piano students 
under the same teacher. Independently, 
both graduated to ARP 2600 synthesizers 
in the mid-’70s, and eventually found 
themselves once again studying under the 
same teacher, studio synthesist Clark 
Spangler. In 1977, they joined forces to 
perform synthesized arrangements of clas- 
sical music for live radio broadcasts from 
the Museum of Natural History in Los 
Angeles. During that period, the duo led 

six Yamaha CS-80s through such master- 
pieces as Beethoven's Eighth Symphony, 
Bach organ works, and Scott Joplin rags. 
After pooling their resources to buy an 
eight-track tape recorder and setting it up 
in Marinelli’s parents' garage, the team 
started getting calls for commercial work. 
This led to their exposure to, and acquisi- 
tion of, a New England Digital Syndavier — 
and things just haven’t been the same 

The Syndavier proved to be the calling 
card they needed to kick their careers into 
high gear. "FM was a major thing,’’ Mari- 
nelli recalls. "That’s what the system had to 
offer, and that’s why we got into it. There 
was no terminal and no sampling, and the 
DX7 was still a good two years in the future. 
The Syndavier, coupled with our demo 
tape, which consisted of classical pieces, 
got us Blue Thunder over the name syn- 
thesistsof the time. Wecould combine 
scoring, arranging, and making a big 
sound using FM to get new sounds. When 
we got Blue Thunder, everything took 

Afterthree monthsof work, they had 
transformed Arthur B. Rubinstein’s musi- 
cal sketch into one of the first scores 
realized on a digital synthesizer — and this 
time the orchestra was used to sweeten the 
synthesizers, rather than the other way 
around. The word spread quickly, and 
composers began turning to Banks and 
Marinelli as arrangers, orchestrators, and 
synthesistsall rolled into one. Rubinstein 
called them back for War Games and The 
Best Of Times, Larry Rosenthal hired them 
for Heart Like A Wheel, and Jack Nitzsche 
used the duo for Starman, Stripper, and 
Stand By Me. Then came Quincy Jones’ 
score for The Color Purple and — well, 
their film bio alone is four pages longl And 
then there are the record credits, which 
include an obscure album called Thriller 
by a guy named Michael Jackson. 

Through it all, the two synthesists 
worked out of a garage. Two years ago, 
however. Sonar moved to a custom- 
designed studio in the heart of Hollywood. 
Banks says, "People would come to the 
garage and say, ‘Gee, those kids are great.’ 
Now they call us 'guys’!” The 'guys’ have a 
24-track room decked out with a video 
system and every imaginable piece of 
audio equipment, including two Syn- 
clavier systems. The off-line system has 32 
FM voices, SMPTE, a touch-sensitive key- 
board, a 20-Meg Winchester hard disk, 
and a Kennedy tape drive. Along with 32 
FM voices, the on-line unit sports 16 voices 
of sampling, eight megabytes of sampling 
memory, and eight individual outputs. 
Sonar’s battery of support synths includes 
a Roland Super Jupiter, an Oberheim 
Xpander, a Prophet-5 with MIDI, a DX7, 
four ARP 2600s driven by MIDI-to-control- 
voltage converters, and more. Of course, 
there’s also a Yamaha C7B grand, for those 
times when a sampled piano just won’t do. 

Marinelli: Each sample, except for the 
hard down-bows, is between two and six 
seconds long. Manufacturers brag about 
17 seconds worth of sampling — we fill 
eight Meg of RAM with one instrument. 
At 50K, sampling with 16-bit words, you 
get roughly 10 seconds per megabyte, so 
eight Meg is 80 seconds. That’s how much 
we’re using for one instrument. That’s how 
you get great sounds. 

Banks: Because of our training and 
background, we spend a lot of time trying 
to make a great-sounding orchestra. 
We’ve made it our business to get a lot of 
great orchestral samples. It's getting 
harder and harder as the players get hip to 
the fact that we can do a good job of imitat- 
ing them. 

Marineili: Four years ago, they wanted 
to look at the [sampled] waveform [on the 
Synclavier screen] — they loved it. Now 
you can't get the good players. We were 
always straight about it. We told them w.hat 

Banks (L) and Marinelli with New England 
Digital Synclavier; original Garfield Dr. Click 
rests below Synclavier terminal. 

we were doing, and what it was going to be 
used for, and we tried to get people who 
were into it. If the players aren't into it, 
you’re going to get rotten samples anyway. 
Part of our philosophy is to limit what we 
want to get in a night, because they'll blow 
themselves out and they won’t get good 
tone on that many articulations in a night. 
We try to get three dynamic levels on 
everything. We go up in minor thirds, and 
then we try to get some articulations that 
we can stack vertically and bring in using 
velocity, pressure, pedals, breath control, 
and the control knob. 

Banks: The sampling process is very 
laborious. You can assume that there are 
going to be takes that sound bad to your 
ear. Well, in order to guarantee that you’ve 
got one good take when you go to edit the 

One of Sonar’s most recent projects is 
Sylvester Stallone’s Over The Top, with 
music by Giorgio Moroder, who originally 
called Banks and Marinelli for Cat People. 
"He had just bought a Synclavier," Banks 
remembers, "and, like many Synclavier 
owners, he thought it was great, but didn't 
have any way of getting into it. So we pro- 
grammed it.” Keyboard caught up with 
Banks and Marinelli at their studio, where 
they were taking a breather between ses- 
sions for the Stallone film and two new 
projects, Nice Girls Don’t Explode and 
Pinocchio And The Emperor Of The Night. 

for most of your work? 

Banks: As much as we may not like to 
tie our success to a hunk of hardware, 
having a Synclavier early on was really our 
calling card. There wasn’t any competi- 
tion. DX7s were still a long way off, and 
even with 32 DX7algorithms, there isn’t 
one that sounds like a couple of the setups 
that are on the Synclavier. We have a DX7 
here, and it does some FM synthesis that 
the Synclavier doesn't, but they're differ- 
ent. Also, Anthony got very involved with 
consulting for the development of the 
Synclavier. A lot of things that are on the 
instrument are our fault! It’s a nice feeling 
to be involved in the development of a 
musical instrument. 

Why do you need two Syndaviers? 
Marinelli: There are two of us! Actu- 
ally, one Synclavier lives in the recording 
studio and is used almost exclusively for 
performance, and the other is in the B 
room. We use that one for composing and 
making our own sounds. We're trying to 
write musicthat’s both idiomaticto the 
instrument and married to video. Staying 
locked to picture all the time is really excit- 
ing. You can get such continuity. You can 
keep seeing the picture and reworking 
something, kind of like getting an orches- 
tral performance the way Ravel might 

You have floppy disk drives, Win- 
chester hard disks, and Kennedy tape 
drives. Why so many different storage 
media ? 

Banks: Costand convenience. Floppy 
disks are convenient, but they’re more 
expensive per megabyte than Kennedy 
tapes, and the Kennedy is faster to retrieve 
from. We have a couple of hundred 15- 
Meg tape cartridges filled up. To keep that 
many floppy disks around is very time- 
consuming. Also, somebody has to sit 
there and feed them to the Synclavier. Just 
for a violin sound, we’re into over 30 
floppy disks. You’re talking about a sample 
50K long at 16-bit for every minor third 
across the range [of the keyboard]. We've 
got 13 or 14 [samples laid out] horizontally 
and up to three [layered] vertically. So you 
can have up to 45 16-bit 50K samples, and 
call that a violin. 



samples, you’d better have two takes that 
you thought were good when they went 
down. There’s no time, while a musician is 
sitting there, to listen to them all. You just 
keep rolling, and make sure that you have 
two that you think are good. One of them 
is bound to be good, and if we’re lucky 
enough to get two that are good, that’s 
great, because now we have a double. 

What do you use the double for f 

Banks: For an a due part [a unison part 
played by two of the same instrument]. 
Doubling the same sample doesn’t work. If 
you double samples, you get awful, ugly, 
terrible phasing. And if you delay the 
waveform or pitch-change it, all you do is 
make an ugly phase-shifter out of it. You 
don’t get the sound of two instruments. 
You need two whole different samples. 
Psychologically and, sometimes, musically, 
it’s nice if they’re from different players, 
but at least they must be different samples. 

Marinelli: We hand-play all the parts, 
because if you're playing the bottom guy 
and the top guy has the melody, you 
would do different things with vibrato and 
dynamics. We put in pedal information 
and all kinds of stuff to give us separate 

Banks: Often, we’ll play a whole bunch 
of lines into the Synclavier — we have a 
200-track recorder here. Then I can roll all 
these takes in nonjustified time or in justi- 
fied time. I’ll play both flute parts, or the 

first and second violins, into the sequenc- 
er, but with three passes of each. Then I'll 
spread them out in stereo to put them on 
the multi-track. 

Marinelli: A lot of times the perform- 
ancesaredone in thecomposing room, 
because, as you’re composing, if you learn 
to think clearly and take a little extra time, 
you can get your performances done. 

Do you find yourselves creating non- 
acoustic sounds on the Synclavier ? 

Banks: One of the more interesting 
things we did was for The Color Purple. 
There’s a scene where Celie, the main 
female character. Is in her house, which is a 
dilapidated place with a leaky roof. It’s 
pouring rain, and she’s got little tin cans 
and pails all over the living room. Her sister 
has been in Africa and sends her letters. 
Hearing the plink-plink-plink of the rain in 
the tin cans reminds Celie of the kalimba 
[African thumb-piano] music her sister has 
been telling her about. So we were asked 
to come up with a sequence that would go 
from raindrops to kalimba. They gave us a 
piece of kalimba music to segue into. 

Marinelli: We also did some of the 
voices i n Pinocchio And The Emperor Of 
The Night. We did James Earl Jones. 

Banks: He’s the villain, the Emperor Of 
The Night. 

What did you do to him? 

Banks: Processed the hell out of him. 

Marinelli: The amplitude of his voice 
gates a sound that’s constantly changing, a 
whole 24 tracks’ worth of sounds. The 

24-track just runs, ticking off these sounds. 
Each track has up to 10 different sounds 
laid on it— espresso machines blasting air 
into Sparklets bottles, mosquitos multi- 
tracked and taken down five octaves, low 
voices moaning, all kinds of windy, low 
rumblings. They all gate in along with 
backwards reverb when he talks. It’s a 
great sound. 

Banks: And all starting with his voice, 
which is one of the greatest instruments 

Marinelli: For Starman, the string 
sounds came from one mosquito in a jar. 
We multi-tracked it loads of times, all out 
of phase — it was just five minutes of mos- 
quito, so we’d record a bit of it, pick up at 
another point later on and dub it over the 
front part, and so on until there were 36 
tracks of it. It was like 36 string players. A lot 
of the string sounds were mosquito mixed 
with Buffy Sainte-Marie’s voice. 

Banks: We wanted some good drum 
sounds for Fast Forward, so we went to a 
high school gymnasium, with all the horri- 
ble echo, and bounced balls on the floor. 
They made great kick drums. Unfortu- 
nately, there was an air conditioner going. 
So I looked at the recording on the Syn- 
clavier’sSFM screen [Signal File Manager, 
one of the Synclavier's sampling software 
packages] and saw that there was a spike 
around 18K. Nobody would have heard 
that in the gymnasium, but when you iso- 
late a sound and then play it in a lower 
range, even a perfect fifth lower, it's right 

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there in your ear. So [using the software] I 
built a digital filter that removed a band 
between 17, 950Hz to 18,050Hz. It worked 
just like a razor blade, removing just that 
frequency and leaving the rest of the sample 

How much do you use the sequencing 
aspect of the Synclavier? 

Banks: Extensively. We live and die 
inside of that sequencer. When we're 
doing an orchestral simulation, we play 
everything by hand into the sequencer. 
We use the sequencer because we can do 
editing in there that we could never do on 

Marinelli: Directors are always making 
changes at the last minute. We can just 
stick the floppy in, move some stuff 
around, and be done with it. 

You compose while you watch the pic- 
ture, with the Synclavier locked to SMPTE ? 

Banks: The Synclavier locks to picture 
with its own SMPTE interface. It’ll track as 
slowly as one frame per second — you 
won’t get any of those joyboxes to do that. 

Marinelli: You hear your music at 
pitch, but it’s slow. 

Banks: You can tap a click track into the 
Synclavier. It's not just a sound reference 
for you to play against, but the justifying 
click track, so that if you want to do a justi- 
fied [quantized] sequencer line against it, 
or if you’re looking at it for beat reference 
on the screen, it’s your actual click track. 

Or you can type in the click: I want 87 
clicks at this tempo, and then accelerando 
in the next 12 beats logarithmically to this 
new tempo, hang there for 1 2 beats, and 
then ritard down linearly in three beats to a 
new tempo. 

Marinelli: The only movie we didn’t 
use the sequencer for was The Color Pur- 
ple, because we weren’t doing the final 
score, except for that one cue with the 
raindrops. We did what we call Polaroids — 
we did the whole score, before it was 
recorded by orchestra. There were 18 
composers, each with one or two or three 
cues. Quincy [Jones] had the themes on 
lead sheets which would go to the com- 
poser who was to work on a particular cue. 
The composer would write a six-line 
sketch, the sketch would come to us, and 
we'd fill it out for orchestra. We were just 
ripping through those cues. It was all 
hand-played directly to tape, with just two 
guys — one of us and our engineer, Mark 
Curry — recording up to six minutes of 
finished music a day. We did over 100 
minutes of score like that. Those record- 
ings went to Spielberg, he would look at 
them against picture, make changes, and 
send them back to the composer, who 
would send them back to us for a final 
version. Then we’d send them back to 
Spielberg, he was dealing with the real 
score as a temp score [temporary score, an 
already-recorded, often well-known, 
piece of music used until the actual score is 
ready]. We had to work fast, so it wasn’t 

our best orchestra. Six minutes a day was 

Banks: Making orchestral Polaroids is a 
side business of ours. It's music insurance 
for directors and producers. A union 
orchestra is going to cost between $12,000 
and $19,000 for a three-hour session. If 
there are mistakes or changes to be made 
in the score, they have to call the orchestra 
back for a three-hour minimum call. They 
can hire us for three weeks for less money 
than it would cost them to hire a 90-piece 
orchestra for a six-hour day. Very often in 
an orchestral score there are two or three 
cues that might be questionable; the 
director is really worried about the big 
love sceneorthebig chase. For $2,000 to 
$5,000, they can have a very representative 
orchestral demo and know whether or not 
the cues are happening. 

How do you work together ? What 
roles do you each play f 

Banks: All of the above. Generally, we 
both write, play, do business, talk on the 
phone. But we each haveourstrengths 
and weaknesses. 

Marinelli: Westarted out trying to do 
everything together, but there was more 
and more demand. Dividing up the tasks 
enabled the quality to get exponentially 
better as we increased our output. 

Banks: Typically, we work together 
most when we’re developing themes for a 
project, much more so than in the day-to- 
day work once the project gets started. 
The major conceptual stuff we really col- 






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laborate on. For instance, for Nice Cirls 
Don’t Explode, Anthony is doing the lion’s 
share of the writing, while I’m doing the 
lion's share of production. It’s faster that 
way because he’s into the movie. He 
knows the characters and what’s going to 
happen. I know what his floppy disk is 
going to look like when it gets to me. 

Is it possible for you to collaborate that 
way if you're not working in your own 

Banks: One of the biggest reasons we 
put the studio together was the amount of 
software and hardware that had to be 
comfortably in place for us to be efficient. 
If we’re going to have record producers, 
other composers, and advertising agents in 
here, we don’t want them to feel like 
they’re intruding on someone’s backyard. 

Marinelli: We were sidemen, too, and 
it was a drag to move all our stuff in and 
deal with a new engineer. 

Banks: Giorgio Moroder has one of the 
finest studios in Los Angeles. When we did 
Over The Top, he gave us two days just to 
set up. We spent the better part of two 
days with [engineer] Brian Reeves setting 
up and getting the kinks out. The Syn- 
clavier lives in its own air-conditioned 
closet at our place. Giorgio didn’t have 
that. We had to get special cables made, 
special MIDI cables with 50-foot runs, to 
put the Synclavier in its own private space. 

Marinelli: We wanted to stay out of the 
studio business, but we ended up studio 
owners. We had to. Wecouldn’tdoour 
work running around on dates. 

Banks: Doing sessions was dissatisfying 
for uson another level, too — the creative 
level. If you’re in there and there are 60 
other guys sitting there waiting for you to 
finish, you don’t get to take time to get a 
sound the way you want it. So you call up 
presets. The technology allows for a lot of 
presets these days, but when you use 
them, you’re not creating anything new. 

Marinelli: When you're in yourown 
room, you can do five things at once. You 
can load a sample in, pick up the phone, 
and practice the part you’re going to play. 
It’s really an efficient way to spend your 
day, and it’s more fun. When you go on a 
date, it’s "hurry up and wait.” That’s going 
to change, I think. Even the Record Plant 
[recording studio] built a synthesizer 

How much of the work you’ve been 
doing lately involves composing original 

Banks: Right now, all of it. 

Marinelli: Pinocchio And The Emperor 
Of The Night is 85 minutes of orchestra 
that we’re scoring now, and Nice Cirls 
Don't Explode is 20 minutes, so we've got 
100 minutes of orchestra to write in less 
than three months. Plus, we’ve got our 
clients: all the Suzuki Samurai commer- 
cials, KNBC News every week and — who 

knows? We might be getting into records 
next month. 

Could you tell us about the Pinocchio 

Banks: It's absolutely wall-to-wall 
music. Occasionally, we've been allowed 
to take a breath, maybe for one sentence. 
No kidding! 

Marinelli: This is our best orchestra 
[simulation] to date. For the strings, it has 
five or six articulations — tremolos, off-of- 
the-string bowing, arcos, pizzicato, differ- 
ent dynamic levels — and it's all triple- 
tracked. If you were to take a sampled 
string sound and play a fast run, the attacks 
would sound mechanical. The way to 
avoid that is to use velocity to control 
volume, decay time, and attack time, so 
that your attack times are slightly different 
on each note. If you play it by hand and 
multi-track it, overlapping different string 
samples, you can eliminate that problem. 

Banks: You can’t get legato strings with 
fewer than three tracks. If we had a Mitsu- 
bishi 32-track [digital tape recorder] or 
tons and tons of RAM [in the Synclavier], 
I’d probably do it five or six times. The 
question that always comes up is, "If you 
have three 16-violin samples, aren’t you 
making the most gargantuan string sample 
in the world?” The answer is no, because 
when you play from one note to another 
with a 16-violin sample, you still get only 
one gate per note. Part of the mass that you 
Continued on page 69 

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tinued from page 64 

when a string section moves is that all 
; notes change at different moments, 
t only are there 16 slightly different 
:hes, but the start times and the dura- 
is aren’t all the same. In a real orchestra, 
j've got 16 violinists doing it, so three 
mpled tracks] is not a whole lot. But by 
■ time you add a little reverb and a little 
>L [digital delay line], it seems to work 
■If out. 

Marinelli: We also have our down- 
v s on velocity, so if you hit the key real 
d, you’ve got a couple of different 
ng sounds striking at once. We cheat 
t way. Also, the down-bows mixed with 

0 give you more articulation. For every 
trument, you’ve got to have a lot of 

Do the various synthesizers in your 
ip play specific musical roles f 
Banks: It’s all in the variety. The reason 

1 don't see a [Yamaha] TX816 here is that 
'ould give us eight guys that sound the 
ie. If I want five clarinets, I don’t want 
s variations of a DX clarinet. I want a DX 
rinet, a Roland clarinet, an Oberheim 
rinet, a Synclavier clarinet, and a 
luential clarinet, because then I have 
! inherently different clarinets. A lot of 
i record stuff, quick orchestra stuff, and 
ck synthesizer TV stuff has a very shal- 
t sound because it's all one thing. 

There's enough of that kind of writing 
around. It’s fast and easy to do with syn- 
thesizers. There are a lot of people who are 
using synthesizers as a convenience. Now 
they can have all these sounds in their 
bedroom. For us, the synthesizer is our 
instrument. We started studying young, 
and we play all different kinds of music 
with it. I don’t ever expect to be satisfied. 

Marinelli: We always argue, “Who’s 
ahead, the manufacturers or the players?" 
I say the manufacturers are ahead, because 
we still aren't writing music for the instru- 
ment [idiomatically,] the way Chopin 
wrote for piano. 

Banks: But the artist is always pulling 
the technology. Artists aren’t writing music 
that Anthony might call idiomatic to the 
instrument because the artist hears some- 
thingelse,and often hastofightwith the 
instrument to get it. And then he’ll have to 
settle for something in between. Drum 
machines like to go in loops, so you hear a 
lot of music that is segmented to a fault. 
Synthesizers have always been considered 
do-everything machines, but they’ve 
never lived up to it. Even old Moog syn- 
thesizers were supposed to be able to 
create any sound, and all you have to do is 
sit with one for a while and you'll know 
that that couldn’t be further from the 
truth. The composer says, "Okay, now do 
this!’’ The machine says, "No.” So the 
composer says, "Well, what will you do?" 
And it answers, "With this software update 

and that hardware, I'll do this.” So the 
composer says, "All right. I'll write this, but 
I really wish I could write that.” 

Marinelli: What is a synthesizer for? Is it 
an instrument, or is it the do-everything 
box? New England Digital is saying the 
Synclavier is a recording studio in a box, 
but it's not really. 

Banks: It's really a new kind of tape 
recorder, musical instrument, and signal 
processor all rolled into one. It’s not really 
a recording studio in a box — yet — because 
it doesn’t employ EQ, an array of faders for 
mixing, or a room to put a musician in. 

Marinelli: We don’t have the sample- 
to-disk option yet, but we will by August, 
and when we do, we’ll use the 24-track for 
no more than reverb returns. We'll have as 
many as 12 great stereo reverb sounds, and 
let the Synclavier play back the whole 
thing, all digitally, and master to CD, 
number to number — if it works. If the 
multi-track is doing no more than playing 
back reverb, the noise floor will drop by a 
tremendous amount, because reverb 
doesn’t have to be very loud in the mix. 

Banks: We're going to be getting eight 
Winchester drives worth of what NED calls 
direct-to-disk. They’ll sample at up to 
100K — no other digital recorder is even in 
that league — and you can get up to 26 
minutes per drive. They're run by the Syn- 
clavier sequencer. Any number of those 
disks can be recording at any one time. 
Now, if you have a number of vocal takes 


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for a pop tune, you can take one phrase 
from take 17 and stick it on take 1, and the 
computer will very gently cross-fade from 
one to the other and back. It puts a Band- 
Aid over the joint between the two, but it’s 
completely nondestructive, so if you don’t 
like the way it sounds, you can go back. 

Marinelli: The next software will be a 
CD algorithm that figures out the numbers 
so that you don’t have to go back to the 
analog domain to make a CD. Who knows 
what that’ll sound like? 

Banks: We're also getting their optical 
disk storage system, which records to 12- 
inch laser disks — two-gigabyte random- 
access disks. Our sample library will go on 
that. The cataloguing structure is so sophis- 
ticated that the catalog on your Win- 
chester tells you, if you have more than 
one laser disk, which disk the sound you 
want is on. They’re setting the whole thing 
up as a database management system. A 
laser disk will hold 10,000 entries, and 
there’s no way you could ever flip through 
that many entries. So you ask it, "Tell me 
what I've got in terms of pizz violins," and 
it’ll tell you. 

Marinelli: That’s the dream-come- 
true. For what we do, the library work is a 
real pain in the neck. If it’s all in one spot. 
I’ll be in heaven. 

Banks: TheSynclavierisan interesting 
instrument. The world knows it’s a very 
expensive animal. We have always ap- 
proached the Synclavier on two levels. 
First of all, it's the greatest musical synthe- 
sizer we’ve ever dealt with. But also, for 
that kind of money, you have to ask your- 
self, "Is this a good business venture?” 
Until now, the sample-to-disk option 
wasn’t cost-effective, even though it’s the 
funnest thing in the world. There is 
nothing more wonderful than working on 
a tune with 16 tracks of live stuff and 200 
tracks of samples, and you say, “Okay, let’s 
go to bar 12,” and boom— you’re right 
therel But remember, there’s music, and 
there’s the music business. You have to 
pay attention to the music business. Oth- 
erwise, you can’t have a Synclavier. 

Speaking of business, we understand 
that the American Federation of Musicians 
in Los Angeles recently accepted your 
proposal for a revision of the Union's wage 
scale for synthesists. What was your pro- 
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paid twice, as though there were two peo- 
ple. Now, if you start at the beginning of a 
cue playing your DX7, and then at bar 17 
you play your [Oberheim] Xpander,and 
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those are called doubles, rather than over- 
dubs. That started with the woodwind 
doubler, who plays a variety of instruments 
during a cue. Doubles are paid as addi- 
tional fractions of scale. With all the new 
synthesizers, computers, and sequencers, 
the number of tracks a synthesist has 
recorded for a cue no longer bears any 
relationship to the work that is done. Also, 
when you're a synthesist, you play ar- 
ranger, orchestrator, engineer — every- 
thing. We came up with a proposal that 
synthesists should be paid by the hour at 
an inflated rate, with an unlimited amount 
of overdubs, doubles or anything else 
they're called upon to do. We needed a 
more standardized way of doing things, so 
that we can all make money. Producers 
won’t be afraid of us, because they’ll know 
from the beginning how much it’s going to 
cost. The scale that ended up being ac- 
cepted was $200 an hour for one synthesist 
and $175 an hour for two or more synthe- 
sists. Scale for 25 or fewer orchestral play- 
ers is $199.16 per player for three hours, so 
it’s roughly triple scale. 

Marinelli: We’ve seen the tables turn. 
We’ve been together for 10 years, and in 
the beginning the Union didn’t want any 
part of us. Using a synthesizer for a bass 
part was unheard-of. After a few years, we 
began to be treated like musicians. Then it 
got to the point where we were con- 
sidered sidemen, but after a while we were 
doing biggerthings than that — arranging, 
making sure the whole score got recorded 
properly. Now we can package the whole 
thing and deliver the finished product to 
the movie studio, and all they have to do is 
dub it. 

Is this going to satisfy the acoustic play- 
ers who are losing work to synthesists 1 

Marinelli: Whenever a new technol- 
ogy comes along, people get burned, and 
I'll do anything I can to help. It’s like Social 
Security: You help the people who set it 
up for you. Well, those people set it up for 
us, and we owe it to them not to leave 
them out in the cold. But the realistic end 
of it is that it’s going to be cooler than it has 
been in the past. Musicians have to stick 
together, though. There aren’t very many 
people who really care about musicians in 
the business of film and recording. 

Banks: To a greater or lesser degree, 
this stuff is inevitable, because film is a 
high-tech industry. Look at what they're 
doing in theaters, with six-track audio,all 
these computerized visual effects, and 
everything locked to SMPTE or VITC [Ver- 
tical Interval Time Code]. To have a com- 
puter-locked music system makes sense to 
people who are producing films because it 
fits right into what they’re doing. If they 
can find composers who can make effec- 
tive music with these systems — with what- 
ever sounds they’re capable of produc- 
ing— it's bound to be less expensive, because 
it's tied more closely into the process of 
making the film. On one level you can say, 
"Why do I need 80 people, 30 micro- 



phones, six recordists, and a big sound- 
stage when I can hire one or two people, 
and they can satisfy the picture and make 
great sounds?" And I’m not even talking 
about orchestral simulation. I’m talking 
about new sounds, whatever they may be. 

Marinelli: But it should be the com- 
poser’s decision. I don’t want to see us all 
get squeezed out. The producer's dream is 
to hire a programmer and say, "Give me a 
score that sounds like this temp score." 
They want to pay you as a programmer, 
not as a composer. That's why we got 
involved with all this Union stuff in the first 
place. The Union hated us in the begin- 
ning, and we weren’t exactly loving it. But 
we realized that we had to form a coali- 
tion, we had to find out who our real 
enemies are — not our enemies, but the 
people who don’t care about the music, 
who only care about product. Now, I’m 
really afraid of the people who go in and 
say, "I’m a programmer. I'll work for a low 
hourly rate,” $25 an hour or something, 
and they end upcomposing,and people 
don't care. Not everybody cares about 

Banks: Film studios and record pro- 
ducers want to hire people and call them 
programmers. That gets them off the 
Musicians Union contract and gets them in 
real cheap, but what it does is drag down 
the perceived value of the job to the 
degree that it's just like cleaning the toilets. 
When the perception of the value of the 
job drops to that level, then the musician 
has no leverage. There’s someone around 
the corner saying, "Yeah, I'll knock that 
out. I’ve got an [E-mu] Emulator,” or "I’ve 
got a Synclavier.” Syndavier guys tend not 
to be like that, because they've got so 
much money invested in their equipment 
that they have to make their money back. 

Marinelli: Look at the claims made by 
the ads in the magazines. The producers 
read these things and believe them. 

Banks: When we do what we do, we 
really have to stand firm and say, "We’re 
doing music here. We’re players if you hire 
us as players. We're composers if you hire 
us as composers. But we're never pro- 
grammers. If you just want me to twist 
knobs, that’s fine, but I’m still making 
musical decisions, and you’re going to pay 
me that way. You're going to respect the 
fact that this is what I’m doing. That's why 
I've gone to the expense of getting the 
finest instrument that I can buy to do the 
art work that I do." 

Marinelli: That’s the only way to keep 
up with this. If you want to have this kind 
of equipment, you have to go through 
these politics in order to do it. If you don’t, 
your art suffers, because it’s a high-tech 
art. It’s dependent on the instruments, and 
they don’t get better with age. We're rid- 
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